So why am sitting on the ground videoing a Tim Hardaway press conference?
Well, I don’t do too much El Paso political stuff on my blog, and Tim doesn’t like to go into that melee either. In fact, his clumsy entrance into a hot national political issue (in 2007 he announced himself to be homophobic) is the reason he was the subject of my amateur video. Tim, like he says in the video, likes to be remembered for “the UTEP 2-step” and “the killer cross-over.” Oh well.
Lee and I do get involved in local El Paso politics from time to time—sometimes the result of our daughter Susie Byrd (our oldest) representing District #2 on City Council. That’s our district, the district she and her two brothers Johnny and Andy grew up in. In fact, Susie, her husband Eddie Holland and our three Hollandbyrd grandchildren live next door. That’s cool by us. Very cool.
Anyway, Pastor Tom Brown—a right-wing religious (Christian) reactionary—is leading an effort to recall Susie. The basic story line is a bit contorted. The City Council voted to extend health benefits to the partners (unmarried, gay, lesbian) of city employees. Most cities already have these rules. Even Southern cities. It’s the right thing to do and it’s good business. Especially for cities competing with other cities to attract new business. Tom Brown and his cronies blasted the Council. And they drafted “a family values” petition and ordinance to do away with the Council’s vote. The ordinance they drafted was vague and confusing, and they refused to edit their proposed ordinance for clarity. But they highlighted “family values.” They gathered enough signatures, the city held a one-issue election (a very small percentage of registered voters participated) and the ordinance passed. The Council then voted to rescind their new ordinance by a slim margin—4 for, 4 against, with the Mayor breaking the tie with a FOR. So Tom Brown and others are now gathering signatures to recall the Mayor, Steve Brown and Susie. (The terms of Rachel Quintana and Beto O’Rourke expired and they are no longer on Council.)
Susie Byrd, Tim Hardaway, Jody Casey-Feinberg and me @ Cinco Puntos
So enter Tim Hardaway. In El Paso Tim’s remembered for those great UTEP teams (1985 through 1989) where he dominated the Western Athletic Conference. I was a big fan. My friend Tom Baker and I used to go watch those games. Two years running they had Tim, Antonio Davis and Greg Foster—all future NBAers—on the same team. The legendary Don Haskins was the coach. We were big fans. I followed Tim’s career in the NBA enthusiastically. I’ve still pissed off at Chris Webber for pouting his way out of his contract with Golden State when they had Tim, Webber, and Chris Mullin. Shit.
But post-career—despite an extraordinary NBA career (perhaps even a Hall of Fame Career)—his reputation took a nosedive. That’s because he’s now too often remembered for saying, “Well, you know I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States.” He was making these statements during a radio interview and in response to the publication of John Amaechi’s book Man in the Middle where Amaechi announced he is gay.
So in the video he announces his change of heart and he gives his support to the NO RECALL Movement in El Paso. Daughter Susie, and NO RECALL leaders, especially Jody Casey-Feinberg, arranged the press conference. Concurrently they were announcing a NO RECALL Rally for the next Sunday.
Good for Tim. I enjoyed talking to him. He was in town for a charity golf tournament and he had agreed to do the press conference. Beforehand, he came by the Cinco Puntos office and we talked basketball and Susie told him the story I just told you. He talked about his family coming to him after he made his homophobic statement and how they listed friends and relatives who are gay or lesbian. He was taken aback, he said. These were people he cared for. And so he came slowly around the corner toward understanding. Besides, he seemed like a nice guy, one of those guys who spent a lot of time in a gym and whose world too much was defined by coaches and teammates. That’s another kind of closet or cloister or whatever. So when he foolishly made his statement and it was blasted over national sports news shows he had opened some doors that he didn’t know were there.
Good for Tim. I’m glad he did what he did.